Happily Ever After

Peter Fulham looks back at E.M. Forster’s Maurice – a novel written in the early 20th century depicting gay love – and ponders the dreams of those struggling for acceptance:

Comparisons between the gay-rights movement and the civil-rights movement can be too simplistic, but in at least one respect there is an unmistakable commonality. I remember hearing Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in middle school and being thrilled by his simple, lucid metaphor of dreaming. But it didn’t occur to me just how literal King’s words probably were.

The idle mind of a marginalized person spends a lot of time dreaming. King’s dream was of a world in which black children and white children co-existed together, uninhibited by racism. For a lot of L.G.B.T. people, I suspect the dream is also of children: the gay middle-schooler no longer terrified by the wrath of bigoted parents, the two high-school girls who no longer have to hold hands in secret.

He closes with this beautiful passage from Forster about the novel’s ending:

A happy ending was imperative. I shouldn’t have bothered to write otherwise. I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, and in this sense Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood. I dedicated it ‘To a Happier Year’ and not altogether vainly. Happiness is its keynote.